If you want to brush up on entropy, you can read about it here. That´s the article I read that started me thinking about, and seeing, entropy … everywhere. If you don´t want to read that article (you should, you know) the very simple idea is that things, on average, run towards chaos and destruction … unless some outside force is applied. For example, your cup of hot morning beverage gets cold. The heat releases to where it isn´t hot. Never, ever, will your steaming hot cup of morning stay hot, nor get hot…unless you do something.
Let´s unpack that a moment with a focus on a classroom. You start the year. You get to know each other, you build community, you build guidelines or rules with your students. You play some team building games. And then, you stop. You stop, probably, because the immense pressure of CURRICULUM and COVERAGE start to press down upon you. Now, there is a chance, a very small one, that through random occurrence the community that you built in the early part of the year will continue to grow and blossom. However, the overwhelming percentage of random events favors chaos and destruction. When that starts to happen, you then have to “apply force” by recommitting to getting to know each other, or to reconvene your long lost community circle to figure out if “this is who we want to be.”
I was creating a mini-cast (podcast under 15 minutes.. I may have invented the term, I may not have. I haven´t Googled it in any case) with a colleague, Jesse Howe. Our focus was labels. He mentioned that labels and diagnoses, at least in the American Public School System, were created because people needed help and they were not getting it. A good thing, right? However, since inception, entropy has set in. Now we dole out labels will-nilly in the hopes that it might help teachers know their kids so they can help them. However, if you know anything about Roesenthal´s rats, labels can be very dangerous. If they lower teacher expectations, good luck kid.
The bottom line in all of this is: if we want to maintain or improve anything, we must WORK. We must put forth EFFORT. And thinking of effort, my thoughts on what a teacher´s best ROI (return on investment) are for another day.